Plans to inject half a million pounds to revitalise the Worcester Street area of Kidderminster were approved by Wyre Forest District Council last night (Wednesday 24 February).
The district council’s cash injection was approved as part of the authority’s budget for 2016-17 and Wyre Forest’s investment will be matched by Worcestershire County Council which will contribute a further £500,000.
The three year budget, which was formally approved by full council, sees a council tax freeze for two years for services provided by Wyre Forest District Council, although bills will rise due to council tax increases imposed by other authorities.
The budget also includes an overall reduction in net revenue expenditure - which pays for day to day services such as waste and recycling, street cleaning, planning, parks and play areas - from £13m in 2016-17, to £11.5m in 2018-19. This lower level of expenditure reflects Central Government funding reductions.
The council has made savings of around £5 million since 2010 and plans to save a further £100,000 in 2017-18 and £750,000 in 2018-19 as part of a balanced sustainable budget that seeks to protect key services against a backdrop of reduced Central Government funding.
The council is looking to parish and town councils and other organisations to take on responsibility for some grass root services. To enable them to do this it is offering grants by creating a £50,000 Localism Fund.
Community initiatives across the district will benefit too with the continuation of the Community Leadership Fund in 2016-17. The fund gives all 33 district councillors a budget of £1,000 to support local causes and worthwhile initiatives, projects and activities run by community groups within their ward.
Feedback from a public consultation has been considered in preparing the budget proposals.
Councillor Marcus Hart, Leader of the Council said:
“Our budget strategy is clearly working and we will continue to make savings by operating more efficiently and taking a more commercial approach to generate additional income from sources other than Government grants and council tax.
“2016 is an exciting year for Wyre Forest, with the opening of the new leisure centre and completion of the Hoobrook Link road. Our plans for Worcester Street will help even more positive things happen in the area and we feel offers residents excellent value for money.”
Councillor Nathan Desmond, Cabinet Member for Resources said:
“The budget strategy is a tribute to the hard work of staff and councillors in reducing costs and increasing income. Initiatives like renting out office space and meeting rooms at Wyre Forest House and providing commercial services from the team at the depot are helping.
“The efficiency drive continues and has put us in a position to make the bold decision to freeze Wyre Forest District Council’s element of the council tax for the next two years, which has been backed by public consultation. The freeze will help all households in Wyre Forest, including those in Kidderminster who for the first time will be contributing to the new town council. ”